As we passed by the kitchen, I stuck my head in and thanked the staff. The owner followed us out asking about our family. He told us he too had a large family and that they were now all in the kitchen working for him. Manly jokingly said that's what we were raising our crew for.
As we were getting the kids into the car he came back with three large bags of chicken. He said, "I know you can use this. Take it. We'll just end up throwing it out. I can't stand to see that happen when I know it could bless you." Manly, humbled by his sweet words, kindly took the bags and thanked the man.
When we got home I grabbed the bags out of the car. When I did I got a big whiff of the chicken. It smelled like smoke and meat. When I smelled it I immediately started to cry. I've smelled that smell before. But it's been a while...
I remember being little and getting my school supplies every year. You know that smell of fresh supplies? Oh how I love that smell. Paste and Crayola's have a way of reminding me of recess, adverbs, and multiplication. Still to this day, I can walk into a school and it takes me back to being a kid.
The same happens when I smell Exclamation! and Sunflowers perfume. I go back to my younger teenage years. I can totally remember my friends and I basically bathing in that stuff, getting all dolled up, and going to the mall for the day to people watch and shop at Claire's. Good times. Good smells.
But this smell, this masculine thick smell, reminded me of one of my favorite people. My grandpa was one of the kindest, most thoughtful, hardworking men I've ever known. A lifetime smoker, he always had a smoky masculine smell. When he'd finally come in from his body shop (where he worked all my life) he would get cleaned up and come over to our house dressed in his best western cut shirt. He'd have gel slicked hair, and spicy aftershave smell. He'd likely have some gift for my mother to thank her for the meal. He'd also have a story and a laugh to share.
I remember being a tiny child watching him fry eggs and bacon on Christmas morning. He'd slip me a slice of bacon with a wink and a smile. He'd open his fridge which ALWAYS smelled like buttermilk, and get another dozen eggs to fry. He cooked for his entire family each Christmas morning for years.
My favorite though was Thanksgiving. That man knew how to fry a turkey! He'd be up early on Thanksgiving morning getting the birds ready. He'd come over later with a perfectly fried turkey in his arms and a smile on his face. He'd put that sucker on the table with a laugh, and I'd have to sneak just a little smidge. He'd laugh and me and give me a hug as I munched. It was THAT smell. That meaty manly smell that I smelled when I brought that chicken in.
Now the last of the bags sits in my fridge. I find myself not wanting to finish it up. Each time I open the fridge I smell that smell and I remember all over again.